“Is he home yet, Cindee?”
The unexpected high-pitched voice startled me so much that I nearly fell from the Queen Anne chair I had been perched on. It only took a second to regain my balance, and once I had, I focused my eyes beyond my reflection in the window where they locked onto the image of a tan puppy drawing closer.
“Not yet, Mylo” I answered.
The look on his face matched the disappointment in my voice perfectly. Before he left for work, Daddy had promised to take Mylo and me trick-or-treating around the neighborhood when he got home.
“Do you think Mommy and Daddy will still take us even though it is dark out Cindee?”
“A promise is a promise, Mylo.”
Both Mylo and I swung our heads in the direction of the deep voice where we found a handsome orange tabby with a rather robust tummy staring at us thoughtfully.
I weighed the cat’s words carefully. The more I thought about what Rapi said, the more confident I was becoming that Daddy meant what he had said.
“Rapi is right,” I said, shifting my gaze back in the direction of the puppy and pronouncing the cat’s name with the eighth letter of the alphabet, so it sounded more like ‘hoppy’.
“That’s when the kids usually show up at the door, so I think he meant we would go after dark,” the feline added.
Rapi had seen more Halloween nights than the rest of us, and truthfully, he was much more observant too. I believed him, and now I was able to relax a little bit, but still, I needed to be looking out the window so I could keep watch for Daddy.
“I love your costume,” Mylo said.
I adjusted my eyes so I could study myself in the pane of glass. Who would think to dress a big old floppy-eared Pitbull-Labrador mix as a cat? I shrugged my shoulders and smiled. For a moment I entertained the idea of attempting to purr, but then thought better of it.
“You make a cute … um, what are you again?”
“I am Doctor Watson! Don’t you see it, Cindee?”
I examined the bowler hat and fake mustache that was glued on above his lip and smiled broadly at him.
“Of course I do!”
Mylo bounded up on the other Queen Anne chair and pressed his nose against the window, then backed up and howled like a banshee.
“There is a car coming,” he barked excitedly.
Rapi and I turned to look. Sure enough, the beams from an SUV could be seen shining down the street.
“I think it’s Daddy,” the cat said, leaping from the console table and dashing across the room before disappearing into the kitchen.
“Where is he going,” Mylo asked.
“Don’t know,” I answered with a shrug.
With Rapi gone, our thoughts turned back to the street and the headlights that were growing closer. We watched with rapt attention as the vehicle drew closer, crawled to an almost complete stop then swung into the driveway.
Mylo’s howl filled the house. I glanced quickly around the room, searching for Rapi. There was no sign of him. I thought that was a little odd, and I knew I should check on him, but this moment was too big.
“Daddy’s home,” I barked with such elation and joy.
Mylo dashed towards the entranceway, and I followed close behind, but once we reached the foyer there was nothing for us to do but wait impatiently for the doorknob to turn.
It seemed like the wait was an eternity of feeling my heart pound in my chest and listening to the whooshing of blood rushing through my veins. When, at last, the door swung open, Daddy was greeted by two very eager dogs and a happy Mommy.
“Are taking the doggies trick or treating,” Mommy asked, wrapping her arms around Daddy.
“We sure are!”
Mommy had her hand on the door and was just about to pull it closed when an unholy shriek came from the kitchen. Her olive skin transformed into a sickly white color.
“Wait here, I’ll check,” Daddy said, stepping around Mommy and back into the house.
“Wait for me,” the wail came again.
With my hair on end, I turned to defend us but quickly relaxed at the site of Rapi rounding the corner wearing a blue conical wizard’s hat, complete with stars, and dragging his cat leash behind him.
“Take me with you!”
One time there was snow on Halloween, but not this year. No, this year it was a beautiful evening. This All Hallows Eve, the moon was almost full and low in the sky. At times, it resembled a giant ornament hanging from the naked arthritic branches of the trees that lined the street, its pale luminous light barely enough to guide us along our way.
We left the house and crossed the street where we came to a stop in front of 11 Autumn Lane, the sight of this morning’s encounter between the neighbor and Edgar the cat. Mylo and I gave each other a side-eyed glance and when I turned to face Rapi, I saw that he too wore a confused expression.
“What are we doing?”
I whispered as quietly as I knew how. A little tickle had started in my tummy and quite honestly, not knowing what was happening was giving me some indigestion.
“I dunno,” Rapi answered, casting a glance over my shoulder at the group of children who had gathered under the streetlamp at the far end of the street.
“Okay, are you guys ready?”
All three of us glanced up at Mommy. Our eyes were wide, and Mylo and I had resorted to panting. A gleam showed in her eyes, and she reached into the backpack she had brought with her. I felt my breath catch in my throat when she extracted two fabric grocery bags.
“What’s she doing Cindee? What’s she doing,” the cat stuttered.
“Here, one for you Cindee,” she said holding the sack to my mouth.
I grabbed ahold of it tightly between my teeth. It must have been my instincts, because I had no idea why I grabbed it, and I mean this quite sincerely … I did not want it.
“And one for you Mylo,” she repeated, offering one to the puppy, who automatically took hold of his as well.
The words tumbled from Daddy’s lips with such verve that I couldn’t fight it. I was on my feet and trailing along behind him like a sleepwalker stuck in a trance.
Mylo and Rapi appeared out of the corner of my eye obediently following in Mommy’s footsteps.
At that moment the whole world shifted into slow motion. The sound of my breathing filled my ears, only it didn’t sound as though it was coming from me. I felt as though I had left my body and was in another world.
The bungalow’s brick façade was drawing closer by the second. My eyes were drawn to the porch light which flickered as though it were truly ablaze. Then, much to my horror, Mommy rang the doorbell.
Everything fell silent save for the sound of my thundering heart. I suddenly was aware of the aroma of decay in the air. In my imagination, I saw a corpse rotting in a coffin, yet my brain reassured me it was only the leaves strewn about the ground beneath my paws.
The door swung open, and a beautiful golden light burst forth from inside the home. I blinked hard, once, maybe twice before I saw him. It was the guy with the long hair and an even longer beard. He stood in the doorway glaring down at us. The way the light shone off his reddish-brown locks made it feel as though his hair was ablaze.
“Well, what a couple of cuties we have here! Here is a special treat for you my sweet little kitty cat!”
I watched in disbelief as he reached inside a plastic pumpkin and extracted a ghost-shaped cookie covered in white icing and dropped it into my bag.
“And one for you my handsome little Wyatt Earp,” he added in a strange Slavic accent. With an odd, twisted smile, he leaned forward and dropped a spider cookie into Mylo’s sack.
“He is Doctor Wat … er never mind,” Rapi squeaked then ducked behind Daddy’s legs.
“Thank you, Sir,” Daddy said grinning from ear to ear.
“You are very welcome. Happy Halloween!”
“Happy Halloween,” we barked in unison.
We turned to leave but stopped dead in our tracks. Standing on the sidewalk in front of us, was a large wolf-like dog staring at us through dark piercing eyes. Rapi let out a scream that echoed through the night and scampered behind Daddy.
“Not to be frightened. I am Vlak Wolfenstien. Is my house. Nice to be meeting you!”
He held out his paw in greeting. I looked at the massive clump of fur with the long nails protruding from it and hesitated.
“I called Mylo. Nice to be meeting you additionally,” the puppy said reaching out to tap paw.
I turned to face Mylo and scowled at him. Sometimes, I feel so embarrassed to be seen with him. This was one of those times.
“Talk normally you fool,” I hissed under my breath, then turned to the large creature and introduced myself.
“I trick or treat with yous?”
“Sure, c’mon. I am Rapi, by the way,” the chubby orange cat said with a smile now that he was sure he wasn’t going to be eaten.
Leaving Mr. Wolfenstein’s house behind we strolled down the street and stopped for treats at all the houses that had their porch lights on. This was turning out to be the most amazing night of my life!
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. There is something special about the thick carpet of red, gold, and orange leaves that blanketed the ground, and don’t get me started about all the tall maple trees growing in the front lawns with their bare limbs reaching for the sky and creaking like deformed arms searching for rest. Each time one of the trees would squeak or groan poor Rapi would leap into the air and search the darkness through terrified eyes for some undead creature that might be stalking us.
At last, we reached the end of the street and had taken in quite a haul of cookies, bones, and bully sticks. We learned that our new friend was from the Czech Republic and that his family moved around a lot. We had reached the end of the street and began to turn right, but for some inexplicable reason, Vlak turned left.
“We don’t go that way,” the words floated meekly through the crisp air.
“Ever,” Rapi added in a deep rumble just for emphasis.
“But Vlak would like to see what is this way!”
“Hmmmm, let’s try something different,” Mylo said, taking a seat next to their new friend.
Rapi and I glowered at Mylo, but the puppy responded by staring back innocently. For the briefest of moments, I felt sorry for him.
“Oh okay,” I said, giving in to the need to be accepted.
“We are going to die,” the cat whined.
A large Victorian mansion rose out of the darkness. It was protected by a large wrought iron fence that enclosed the property. The fence, however, was not the primary defense mechanism. No, that would be Edgar.
“That is the home of Rose and Lily Moody. Legend says they are direct descendants of the first witch,” I explained to Vlak, beginning my tale.
His ears perked up and his eyes glistened at the mention of the word “witch”. A sudden eerie sensation settled over me.
“Vlak must hear more. Please tell!”
There was an unmistakable urgency in the wolf-like creature’s voice. He looked over at me with a wild smile. Unnerved, I continued.
“Hiding somewhere in the darkness is Edgar. The black cat is their familiar who likes to hide in the trees and keep watch.”
Vlak stopped in front of the gates and stared wide-eyed at Moody House. His mouth dropped open and his tongue slid out between sharp, gleaming white teeth.
“Edgar watches for cats or dogs that don’t have their Mommy or Daddy with them,” Rapi answered, all the while his head swiveling around searching for some evil that might be lurking nearby.
“And, when he finds one, he alerts Rose and Lily,” I finished the cat’s thought for him.
“They eat dog soup and cat stew,” Rapi added, his usually strong Latino voice cracked under the strain.
A blur shifted off to my left. Instinct kicked in and my head spun in the same direction as the movement. He blended in so well with the background that it took me a moment or two to find him, but once I did, I could easily see that Edgar had leaped up onto the wall and was now sitting on top of a pillar.
Without warning, Vlak dashed forward and leaped into the air towards the black cat. Edgar hissed and bounded to a nearby tree branch, reaching out with his claw and raking it along Vlak’s back as he flew by.
The large dog let out a yelp and then charged toward the witch’s familiar. Edgar launched himself into the air towards the pillar on the other side of the gate, but Vlak athletically changed course and managed to swat Edgar across the face, knocking him to the ground with a thud. The large predator stood on his hind legs and roared victoriously while sneering at the cat who lay unconscious at his feet.
“OMG,” Rapi whispered, breaking the spell for a moment.
A glanced around at my family. Like me, they all stood frozen, their eyes glazed over and unable to tear themselves away from the horror that was unfolding in front of us. A shaft of light lit up the yard and turning to see where it had come from, I once again was drawn into the drama.
Vlak was stooping down to scoop up Edgar’s limp body but was quickly distracted by a brilliant pinpoint of light coming from the front porch of Moody House.
Two figures cloaked in dark robes stood under the awning, their feminine voices chanting in some strange language. The words tumbled from their lips like some ancient exotic song that transformed the tiny point of light into a large glowing sphere that hung over the house and chased away the darkness.
“Witches! All witches must perish,” Vlak croaked hoarsely then dropped to all fours and rushed forward.
Vlak was quickly covering the distance between himself and the Moody Sisters. They were running out of time to escape. I gulped. I tried to tear my eyes away from the carnage that was about to happen, but I just couldn’t do it.
The sisters began to chant again, eliciting a deep throaty grown from the hairy beast that was about to tear them apart, but overall this din came a large bang that silenced everything and echoed through the night at the same time.
Vlak suddenly stopped his assault and clutched his chest, then fell face-first to the ground.
A blur of darkness appeared out of the corner of my eye and I felt the silky smoothness of its fur brushing against me as it passed. Stepping into the light and taking a defensive posture next to Vlak was a rather large, muscular Husky. My focus was so attuned to this new arrival that I didn’t see the human that he brought with him until he too walked inside the sphere of light.
“Dash?” Mylo asked studying the husky.
“Officer Anderson?” Rapi mumbled.
I watched dumbfounded as Vlak’s lifeless body transformed into our new neighbor, Mr. Wolfenstein.
“Silver bullet,” the sisters asked in unison.
“Yes maam,” Officer Anderson answered with a grin.
“Seem’s like something every Samhein, doesn’t it,” Rose asked, brushing a red lock of hair from her eyes.
“Every year, sister,” Lillie answered, leaning over to scoop Edgar up into her arms.
The cat shook the cobwebs from his head and began to purr and snuggle into Lillie’s neck.
“What about them,” Officer Anderson asked, nodding in our direction.
“Oh yes, I will take care of that,” Rose answered with a cackle.
Before I had a chance to think another thought, the light exploded like a giant water balloon, sending shards of tiny light in every direction which soon faded into complete and total darkness.
A thick fog rolled in and surrounded us. The night went quiet except for the sound of a sweet melody being hummed.
“Forget,” a female voice whispered.
“Remember no more!”
My eyes cracked open and my lashes fluttered to protect me from the first rays of a new day. Much to my surprise, the bed was empty. I immediately checked the clock.
I climbed to my feet and stretched before dashing down the stairs where I found Mylo and Rapi staring out the window.
“What’s going on?”
They both turned to look at me and smiled brightly, then returned to spying on the neighborhood.
“Cindee come check this out,” Mylo called over his shoulder.
“There is a moving van across the street, and they are moving everything out of the house that they just moved in yesterday!”
I watched as the cat explained using animated faces and crazy paw gestures.
“That is so weird,” I said, forcing my way between them and plopping down on my butt.
“Very weird,” Rapi agreed.
“Speaking of weird, I had a wild dream last night!”
“Was it about werewolves,” Rapi asked.
“And witches,” Mylo inquired.
“And Officer Anderson shooting silver bullets,” I added.
“Me too,” Rapi and Mylo shouted at the same time.
“I guess it was just another Happy Halloween!”